June 2001 Computer Video news

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FAST goes for the jugular
FAST's professional turnkey DV editing system, Purple, is going from strength to strength - being adopted as the platform of choice for video professionals and media courses alike. Sales, though, can be expected to go through the roof with the announcement of a software-only version which uses the same Studio editing program as Purple and runs on Windows 2000 PCs with low-cost OHCI FireWire ports.
Fast DV Studio 3.0 will be sold in two versions. The standard version, costing £817 inc VAT, is dedicated primarily to video editing. A Production Pack add-on, costing the same, will provide advanced audio and effects tools associated with the XL version of Fast Studio. Together, the packages will cost £1,522. While the price is still steep, the availability of FASTstudio 3.0 will allow video editors to decide whether their main investment should be in first-rate software or high-tech hardware.
The standard FASTstudio 3.0 features unlimited video and audio tracks on the timeline, and the ability to assemble edit sequences with video icons in a storyboard manner. The standard bundle supports three-point editing, slip editing, and the ability to trim clips directly on the timeline. There's also a 2D effects editor, a Chromakey editor, and control for colour and transitions.
The Production Pack adds slide-editing and the ability to assign edited sequences to a container so filters and effects can be added to the whole lot in one go. There's also a 3D effects editor, and a full-screen preview of the results from all effects editors. There are advanced audio tools, including an audio mixer with groupable sliders. A Fuse command joins sequences together for export, and Xsend delivers sequences to third-party programs, such as Adobe After Effects or Media100's Cleaner.
The only significant differences between FASTstudio 3.0 Production Pack and the Studio XL software on Purple appears to be that the software-only version has no support for FAST's jog/shuttle controller, and no direct MIDI support for audio control.

FAST, 020 8968 0411; www.fastmultimedia.com

MGI turns the tables
The dominant role of video editing hardware companies in the DV editing market has been ripe for change for the past 18 months. Traditionally, these companies have bought DV editing software at very low prices, then bundled it with their hardware and taken most of the credit, plus the lion's share of the profit. Budget video editing software maker MGI has taken steps to bring about a role-reversal and grab some of the cream for itself. It is now buying-in a low-cost, three-port FireWire card and bundling it with a full version of its own VideoWave 4 editor - a move many other software companies will surely follow in the near future. The package, VideoWave 4 DV Suite, carries a suggested price of £99 inc VAT.
MGI's software is easy to use but offers only basic assemble editing and can't output video directly to tape without first creating a space-wasting and time-wasting file on hard disk, that is then output via FireWire.

MGI, 01628 680227; www.mgisoft.com


Matrox one-card trick
Matrox has overhauled its RT2000 real-time DV editing package, condensing it onto a single PCI board that will be sold as the RT2500, and for the same price (£821 inc VAT) as the RT2000.
Unlike the RT2000, the newcomer isn't supplied with a special version of the G400 graphics card, so users will have to buy a graphics card if they don't have one. On the up side, though, they can use the graphics card of their choice. This will make dual-monitor support a lot easier - especially if opting for a G450 dual-head model - and won't require two graphics cards, as is the case with the RT2000.
As with the RT2000, the RT2500 sports DV and analogue AV in/out, and works with two layers of DV or MPEG-2 and one layer of graphics, creating many 2D and 3D transitions and effects in real time. Real-time effects, as seen in the RT2000's Mega Pack, include particle effects, colour correction, 3D titles, distortion and transparency effects. This real-time feature-set is, it seems, only applicable to analogue video output - output via FireWire will require rendering first.
RT2500 runs on Windows 98, ME and 2000, and comes bundled with Adobe Premiere 6; Inscriber Title Express; Video SpiceRack Lite; Sonic Foundry ACID Music; Sonic Solutions DVDit! LE; and Ligos LSX MPEG LE (for Adobe Premiere).

Matrox, 01753 665 500; www.matrox.com

iBook grows up
Apple's budget laptop computer, the iBook, has finally grown up. The new version bears no resemblance to a Fisher Price toy or an overgrown wine gum. Instead, Apple's ingenious design department has made it look like a laptop computer.
Prices start at £1,099 (inc VAT) for a model with CD-ROM drive and 64MByte RAM. Apple's iMovie 2 editor is supplied making this possibly the most cost-effective editing laptop available. There are three other iBooks, all with 128MByte RAM, and differing only in the optical disc supplied - £1,299 buys a machine with a DVD-ROM drive, £1,399 gets a CD-RW drive instead, while the top model (£1,599) has a combination CD-RW and a DVD-ROM.
The revamped machine has a far more elegant case than its predecessor and, at 2.2kg and 285(w)x 34(h)x230(d)mm, it's much lighter and smaller too. It offers a single FireWire port, a 500MHz G3 processor, a 12.1in TFT monitor, a 10GByte ATA hard drive (upgradable to 20GBytes for an additional £170), a full-size keyboard and 8MByte ATI Rage Mobility AGP2-standard graphics.
Other shared features include Mac OS9.1, two USB ports, built-in 10/100 Base-T Ethernet networking, a 56K internal modem and built-in antennas and card slot for optional AirPort wireless network card. The monitor supports resolutions up to 1024 x 768, and allows an external monitor to be attached - via a supplied adaptor that couples to the machine's non-standard RGB output socket. As with the previous model, there's composite video and analogue audio output, but we don't know if the quality of the video output has been improved from that of the previous iBook.
iBook's software bundle also includes iTunes and the AppleWorks office suite, as well as three games - Cro-Mag Rally and Bugdom, Nanosaur.

Apple, 0870 600 6010; www.apple.com/uk

All about DVD-R
Those eager to start making their own DVDs are soon likely to have a choice of DVD-R burners, with Panasonic and ADS about to join Pioneer on the DVD-R bandwagon.
Panasonic's offering, the LF-D311, combines DVD-R and DVD-RAM writing but lacks the ability to write to CD-R/RW discs. ADS's product, the Pyro 1394 DVD-R/RW, is - as you'd expect - a FireWire device, and turns out simply to be a Pioneer DVR-A03 DVD-R burner housed in a FireWire external drive bay. It will record to CD-R and CD-RW, as well as DVD-R and DVD-RW discs, and it will come bundled with Sonic Solutions' entry-level DVD authoring program, MyDVD.
The Panasonic LF-D311 is due after the summer in EIDE and SCSI versions to fit in 5.25in computer drive bays. A set-top model (MDR-E20) will also be introduced and be able to be used as the DVD equivalent of a VCR, offering, surprisingly, simultaneous recording and playback by use of two laser heads.
Panasonic's prices in the USA are expected to be under $1,000 in each case, but no UK figures have been announced. ADS hasn't yet announced prices or UK availability, but the product is due for release in the USA in June and we'd hope the cost will be no more than £150-£200 greater than the Pioneer drive, whatever price that turns out to be.

ADS, 00 35 36170 702042; www.adstech.com
Panasonic, 0990 357357; www.panasonic.co.uk
Pioneer, 01753 789789; www.pioneer-eur.comA03.htm

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Reviewed in June's issue:
Matrox Marvel G450 eTV
ATI All-In-Wonder Radeon
Sony DSR-11
Panasonic AG-DVC15

In June's news:
FAST goes the jugular
MGI turns the tables
Matrox one-card trick
iBook grows up
All about DVD-R

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